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Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Ben – Clio, MI

A: Phragmites are trouble. These perennial, warm-season grasses are an invasive species in many parts of the country. When the dense stands take over a lake or wetland area, they can cause adverse ecological, economic and social impacts – including reduced access to your swimming or fishing hole and increased fire danger.

Before we discuss how to control these weeds, also termed “common reed,” let’s learn a bit more about them.

Phragmites 101

In their information-packed booklet titled, A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Natural Resources describes phragmites as plants that can reach 15 feet in height with flat, stiff, tapering leaves. During growing season, the plant grows gray-green foliage and purple-brown-silver seed head plumes at the end of long stocks, which appear in late July. In the fall, the foliage turns tan and falls off, leaving behind the stock and plume-topped shoot throughout the winter.

But the worst part of phragmites is its rhizome and root system, which can grow to an incredible 60 feet in length and 6 feet deep. More than 80 percent of the plant’s yearly biomass is contained below ground, making it very difficult to treat and control.

Managing the Biomass

To eliminate phragmites, you have to attack the right portion of the plant at the right time within its life cycle. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Herbicide Treatment: In the late summer, early fall when the phragmites are flowering, treat them with an herbicide. We recommend Shoreline Defense® to control cattails and for partial control of phragmites. When using an herbicide, make sure you use Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which contains a surfactant that will help the chemicals enter the plant’s system faster.
  2. Remove the Dead Weeds: In two to three weeks, after the weeds have died, cut them down with a Weed Cutter and manually remove the dead weeds – including the seed heads and rhizomes, which should be bagged and thrown away.
  3. Controlled Burn: In situations where it can be used safely and effectively, a prescribed fire is an effective and ecologically sound method for controlling phragmites. It’s critical, however, to first treat the area with herbicides and then follow-up with the controlled burn the following year in the late summer, according to the DEQ. Work closely with your local departments to ensure safety, proper permits are in order and timing is correct.

For more information about removing these invasive weeds and reclaiming your pond or late, contact your local Department of Natural Resources or Department of Environmental Quality. They have a wealth of knowledge and know-how to help.

Pond Talk: Have you successfully battled phragmites? What was your strategy?

Controlling Cattails – Ponds & Lakes

Dyed Pond

 

Controlling Cattails
Cattails provide a natural habitat for fish and help reduce nutrients and sediment that run off into your pond. They are also used in some ponds to add to its overall aesthetic appeal. While there are a few benefits to having cattails around your pond, at what point do they become an inconvenience and how do you get rid of them?

Mark Your Territory
While you enjoy the presence of cattails in your pond, they can quickly take over your pond and become an unsightly pest. An easy way to keep your cattails in check is by marking boundaries in your pond. By establishing reference points, it will be easier to tell when your cattails are trying to spread out, enabling you to address the situation before it has a chance to get out of hand.

Spray it, Don’t Say It
When a pond becomes overgrown with cattails, it can seem like regaining control will become an epic battle. Using a spray on aquatic herbicide like Shoreline Defense®” will make short work of your cattail woes. Treating cattails is as simple as mixing Shoreline Defense® into a tank sprayer with the corresponding amount of water and spraying it onto the plant surface. The herbicide will soak into the plant and work its way to its roots, killing it completely. Once the cattails are dead, you can cut them away from your pond with an aquatic weed cutter and rake them away from your pond.

Even Super Heroes Use Sidekicks
Using a surfactant like Treatment Booster™ PLUS will greatly increase the effectiveness of Shoreline Defense®. Treatment Booster™ PLUS helps break down the waxy cuticle of the cattail leaves, enabling a more effective uptake of herbicide. Mix 2 ounces of Treatment Booster™ PLUS for every gallon of water and Shoreline Defense® solution and you are ready to spray! Treatment Booster™ PLUS can be used in a number of aquatic herbicides and is not exclusively used with Shoreline Defense®.

New and Improved
To make your pond maintenance even easier, you can now purchase Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo.

POND TALK: Do you keep cattails in your pond? How do you control their spread?